Greater Victoria has seen the driest start to a year since records began, according to federal rainfall statistics.
From January to June, there has been 222.3 millimetres of rainfall at Victoria International Airport in 2023, according to Statistics Canada data. That’s the least there’s been over that time period since 1940 – when records began.
When snowfall is added in to the total precipitation figures, only two years are drier, 1942 and 1973. April was the only month that saw more rain than usual when compared with the 1981 to 2010 climate normal monthly averages for precipitation. January, March and May saw less than half of their respective monthly averages for precipitation this year.
A dry winter has led into a dry summer. In July, so far there’s only been trace amounts of rainfall. June had 16.8 mm and May just 11.6 mm.
The whole Island is currently on Drought Level 5, meaning “adverse impacts are almost certain.”
Speaking on July 13, B.C. Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma said the province is working with communities to develop their own guidelines but are considering provincial water restrictions.
“While it is not uncommon for British Columbians to face droughts, the level and extent that we’re witnessing this early is deeply concerning.”
The conditions are exacerbating what has become a record wildfire season.
While Greater Victoria has fared better than other areas of the province, the conditions are such that communities in the West Shore like Langford have effectively reached peak wildfire season conditions six weeks ahead of schedule, Langford Fire Chief Chris Aubrey said in a previous interview with Black Press.
“I don’t see any relief … that little sprinkling of rain did nothing to our wildfire rating,” he said. “So little rain can create a false sense of security. We need a deluge of one or two days rain to make a difference.”
~ with files from Lauren Collins, Wolfgang Depner.